National Collegiate Honors Council


Date of this Version



Honors in Practice, Volume 10 (2014)


Copyright 2013 by the National Collegiate Honors Council


The ability to transfer knowledge across contexts, as from course to course or from school to the “real-world,” is important to both students and educators. Without this transfer, students cannot apply information learned in the classroom. Even though we all know the importance of transfer of knowledge, we can do more to ensure that it takes place. While transfer of information between contexts is a requirement in animal training, we do not always hold ourselves and our students to this same standard. We tend to assume that students, especially honors students, come into our classroom with the metacognitive skills that are critical for transfer, but research does not support this assumption. We must teach our students the skills of metacognition and self-regulation to ensure that they receive a well-rounded education, not only learning the course material but also learning how to learn.

Although historical arguments have posited only a modest intellectual connection between “man and beast” (Kant; Müller), more recently the field of comparative cognition has explored the similarities and differences among the various species of our planet ranging from the simple sea slug to the highly complex human. Researchers within the field have continually demonstrated a common thread binding animal species and linking together both our biological and psychological components. Despite many differences in the cognitive abilities among animal species, Darwin put it best when he stated, “There can be no doubt that the difference between the mind of the lowest man and that of the highest animal is immense. Nevertheless the difference, great as it is, certainly is one of degree and not of kind” (445).